Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Flow Of The Dance

Sometimes, one leaves the Scottish Country Dance floor with an especially warm feeling. For the less experienced Dancer, that may be because s/he has completed a dance for the first time or has gone on to master the correct Timing and Phrasing for each component Figure; for a more experienced Dancer with a Beginner as Partner, that may be because s/he has helped the Beginner through a quite demanding dance; for some, it may even have more to do with the current or potential relationship with the Partner away from the dance floor; when none of these applies, it is the quality of the dance which gives particular pleasure. Flow of the dance is concerned with the factors which make a Scottish Country Dance special.

For a new dance, the deviser must choose an original sequence of Figures which suit the Type of set and which produce the correct Progression by the end of each Repeat. However, to paraphrase the late Don Popplewell, for many years a stalwart of the Newbury and District Caledonian Society, "Too many dances appear to have been devised by randomly selecting Figures whose Time allocations aggregate to the number of bars in the Repeat".

To avoid this trap, the deviser may aim for something innovative by way of a new Complex Figure though successful ones, such as Schiehallion reels, Pass and turn, Set and link and so on turn up very infrequently. More practically, s/he should make the succession of Figures blend, one into the next, to make a seamless whole so far as is possible; the experienced Dancer gains most satisfaction from finding him/herself naturally in the correct Position and Facing in the correct Direction at the Finish of one Figure, ready for the next.

Flow of the dance is a convenient term to describe this seamlessness. It is covered in three respects: Flow between figures, Flow between repeats and the all-important Finishing which enables the seamlessness. Although Flow between repeats is really only a special case of Flow between figures, it deserves separate treatment because, like Drop, it is neglected as though, by being ignored, any associated problem will go away.

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Flow Of The Dance